Written By: Rachel Dempsey
Originally Austin Kay wanted to be a teacher; specifically, a shop teacher. Oh, how plans can change! After college, Austin quickly found himself seeking new challenges and opportunities outside a classroom, which is what led him to the construction industry. Today he is a Project Manager with MCL Construction; he’s been with us for a little over a year and enjoys how local the company is compared to his previous jobs.
“The contractor I was working with before caused me to travel all over the country. My last three jobs were in Anchorage, AK, Yuma, AZ, and Vancouver, WA. You don’t get to build relationships in a company like that because you hop around,” explained Austin, “I was ready to be at MCL and start building relationships.”
Now that Austin can settle in a single location, he can continue to work on his other passion, volunteering as a firefighter. He began volunteering as a firefighter seven years ago when he was working as a shop teacher in the city of Sioux Falls. Volunteering allowed him to meet new people in a place where he knew no one.
“It was just an excellent way to meet people. I also had an uncle back home that was on the fire department, and I looked up to him and his time as a firefighter,” said Austin.
Austin currently volunteers with the Crescent, IA, fire department and has been working with them for nearly three years as both a firefighter and EMT. His department runs all the fire and medical calls within their territory but, nowadays, almost 90% of the calls the department receives are medical.
The department usually runs around 300 calls a year and Austin will make about half of them. When asked if he has ever thought about making firefighting a career, Austin responded with no hesitation.
“I prefer the volunteer route. It is hard to explain the feeling because I think if you volunteer it is still fun, but if you go into paid, it starts to become more of a job.”
Although working in construction and firefighting seem to be two completely different things, Austin finds them to work hand in hand with one another. With each, you have a particular set of people, tools, and circumstances. Quick decisions usually need to be made as well, decisions that are going to keep the different processes moving forward while continuing to stay thorough in your work.
“Being thorough is probably one of the things I value or internalize the most. I am pretty exacting, I don’t have much tolerance for things not being correct, which helps in both construction and firefighting,” commented Austin.
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